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REPORT AND PLAYER RATINGS - Basingstoke Town 1-0 Reading Under-21s
The striker cleverly flicked home Nathan Smart’s low cross after 35 minutes to give the hosts a deserved victory that leaves them unbeaten in three friendly outings.
Town manager Jason Bristow made two changes to the starting 11 that began Saturday’s game against Yeovil. Romeo Agebane came in for the injured Jay Gasson in the centre of defence, while Louie Soares replaced Shaun McAuley in the centre of midfield.
There was an interesting addition on the bench, with former Chelsea youngster Adam Nditi among the substitutes.
Town got off to a good start and were the better side throughout the first half, keeping the ball well and putting the Reading youngsters under pressure with quick, incisive attacks.
Soares, Andrew Jenkinson and Smart fired in early shots from distance, while it took an important interception to stop Enver-Marum getting on the end of Smart’s low cross.
Sam Argent showed good feet to make room for a shot, but fired too close to goalkeeper Dan Lincoln, while the same player then headed wide from a corner and Robbie Rice almost bundled the ball home from a free-kick.
The hosts finally got the goal their play merited 10 minutes before half-time. Williams released Smart down the right wing and he did well to beat the left-back before putting in a low centre that was flicked home by Enver-Marum.
The half ended on something of a sour note as Soares was forced off with a back injury, while Bristow made a further seven changes at the break, giving his triallists a run-out.
Nditi was one of the players introduced and almost immediately attempted to lob the Reading goalkeeper from fully 30 yards. It wasn’t a bad effort either, but the ball flew over the crossbar.
With Reading also changing most of their side at the break, the second half was rather fragmented, but Town remained on top.
Argent was denied by a last-ditch challenge, while Chris Flood’s header forced Jonny Henly in the Reading goal to make a save.
Shane Hollamby made an excellent challenge to deny Williams a clear chance at the other end, but Town continued to create openings, with Drew and McAuley firing wide.
A mistake by Nditi gave Tommy Urbancic a chance to shoot, but his effort was wide, while McAuley saw his shot saved by Henly and Flood put another opportunity wide.
Dan Williams should have levelled for Reading with 11 minutes to go, failing to make proper contact when afforded a free-header from a free-kick, while the same player also had the final chance, firing narrowly wide from distance.
Moore – 7 out of 10
Didn’t have a lot to do against his Reading team-mates, but looked assured and in control throughout.
Smart – 8 (Gazette Star Man)
Regular forays down the right were a constant danger. Made the goal and rarely troubled defensively.
Bird – 7
A quiet game for the left-back. Reading got little change out of him and he got forward whenever possible.
Jenkinson – 7
His final ball wasn’t great on a couple of occasions, but he shielded the defence well and got attacks under way.
Rice – 7
Marshalled the back four well.
Agebane – 7
Did his chances of earning a place in the squad no harm at all. Looked totally at home alongside Rice and comfortable on the ball.
Dunn – 7
Showed good tactical discipline and made some good runs from midfield.
Soares – 8
Another lively display. Created chances with his pace and trickery before having to go off injured.
Enver-Marum – 8
Good all-round display, capped with a goal.
Argent – 7
Showed some nice touches and made some good runs, but was unable to provide the finishing touch.
Williams – 8
Caused problems at the point of the midfield diamond. Involved in the move that led to the goal.
McAuley (for Soares 42min) – 8
Took over from where Soares left off. Created chances and not afraid to have a pop from distance.
Camacho (for Smart 45min) – 6
Looked more comfortable at right-back but failed to have a real impact on the game.
Nditi (for Bird 45min) – 7
Clearly a class above most other players out there, but tried to be too clever at times.
Hollamby (for Rice 45min) – 7
Made a couple of mistakes, but atoned with a potentially goal-saving challenge.
Maylen (for Agebane 45min) – 7
Another solid performance from the young defender.
Drew (for Dunn 45min) – 6
Not involved as much as he would have liked.
Flood (for Williams 45min) – 7
Not entirely comfortable at the point of a midfield diamond, but worked hard and got into good positions.
Owusu (for Enver-Marum 45min) – 6
Bullied the Reading defenders, but lacked an end product.
Macklin (for Argent 57min) – 6
Couple of nice touches, but not really involved.
Strassa (for Jenkinson 57min) – 7
Solid debut for the holding midfielder. Big and strong.
Reading Under-21s: Lincoln (sub Henly 45min), Owusu (sub Sheppard 45min), McClennan (sub Ethelston 45min), Shaughnessy (sub Collins 45min), Dickie (sub Warity 45min), Hyam (sub Williams 45min), Vastsuk (sub Jules 45min), Husin (sub Watson 45min), Samuel (sub Urbancic 62min), Kelly (sub Lamal 45min), Fosu (sub Cardwell 45min).